BLOOMINGTON — As of Friday, State Farm had received just over 53,000 auto and homeowners claims as a result of Hurricane Harvey. 

“We are starting to get into the area. A lot of the water is starting to recede,” said Missy Dundov, spokeswoman for the Bloomington-based insurer.

“We have claims reps from all across the country, including Illinois” who have been sent to Texas, she said. “Well over a thousand have been brought into Texas. … We're looking into sending people into Louisiana now.”

Regardless of the insurance losses in Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere, it should have no impact on Illinois customers, according to Dundov.

Rates are based on the state you live in and anticipated future losses in those areas, she said.

“We don't try to make up for past losses,” said Dundov. “We look at the future.”

The company is not estimating how long it will take to get an estimate of losses or take care of all its customers, saying only staff will be there as long as needed. Hurricane Harvey initially made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25.

“We have learned from past events” such as Hurricane Katrina, said Dundov. “We were able to get a lot of our claims representatives to the staging area.”

Another thing that has changed is the way people file claims. “Technology has really evolved. We're able to reach customers more quickly,” she said.

Some policy holders are using the Pocket Agent app or the State Farm website to file initial claims, she said. They also can call the company's 800 number, with questions being fielded in call centers nationwide.

But there still will be representatives on the ground, meeting customers in person and inspecting property.

“This is what we do,” Dundov said. “Our job is to help people.”

State Farm does not release the number of customers it has in specific regions. However, according to the Texas Department of Insurance website, State Farm is the No. 1 insurer of homeowners and private passenger vehicle owners in Texas.

It has a 22 percent share of the homeowners insurance market and about 16 percent of the private passenger vehicle market, the Texas department reports.

Vehicle owners whose cars were damaged by flood water are covered if they have comprehensive auto insurance, Dundov said.

However, standard homeowners insurance policies cover such things as wind and hail damage, but not flood damage.

The Associated Press reported this week that few people in the hard-hit Houston area have flood insurance. A 2016 report from the Insurance Information Institute said only 12 percent of U.S. homeowners have flood insurance, the lowest percentage since 2010.

According to State Farm figures, Texas leads the country in natural disasters. Last year, State Farm paid out 145,000 hail claims in Texas — more than the next seven states combined, the company reports. Texas was second in lightning-related insurance claims, according to State Farm.

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter @Pg_Sobota



Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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